[Marxism] Off the Rails
lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Apr 3 06:28:24 MDT 2018
But the government’s chief target is the railroad worker “statut,” the
special employment status that applies to 140,000 employees of the SNCF.
Under this system, employees cannot be laid off for economic reasons and
they have the ability to retire earlier than most of the French
workforce. While the general retirement age is 62, SNCF conductors can
retire at age 52, and other railroad personnel at 57.
As most trade unionists and left-wingers readily acknowledge, the
special employment status by itself is a tricky thing to defend. By
definition, it applies only to railroad workers, just as journalists,
doctors, and civil servants have statuts of their own. At a time when
many young and working-class people are mired in precariousness and
unemployment, sympathy for rail workers and their employment advantages
isn’t exactly widespread. In fact, a recent poll showed nearly 7 in 10
favor eliminating the statut. The president and the cabinet understand
what this means. Successful passage of the reforms depends on isolating
rail workers from the general public — on painting them as privileged
vestiges of a bygone era who need to wake up to the realities of the
modern, globalized economy.
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